Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

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Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by roninbodhisattva » 19 Dec 2013 23:20

Since there was at least some interest showed below, I'm making this thread a sticky and using this a placeholder. Right now, topics that just jump to mind are (in no particular order):

- Linear order and hierarchical structure (i.e. syntax is not just word order)
- Phrase structure
- Selection (subcategorization, embedded clauses, embedded questions, etc)
- Wh-movement
- Passives
- Raising and Control
- NP/DP Licensing and Case Theory
- Verb movement
- Theta Theory
- Binding theory
- Split VP hypothesis

More advanced topics, and what I expect people here will be more interested in we could also discuss would be:

- A vs A-bar movement and positions
- Islands
- Different types of alignments
- Word order variation
- Agreement
- Crash course in Minimalist theory
- Argument addition (causatives, applicatives)
- Clausal architecture (i.e. cartography)
- Long distance movement
- The relationship between syntax and morphology

Also, to be clear, I'll try to strike a balance description and theory in the lessons, though I do believe that theory really gives you tools that allow you investigate and think about what you really need to pay attention to in syntax, and also makes you figure out how things work in your language (I've rarely seen a conlang description that gives a good overview of binding, or looks at raising and control predicates. Because I'm a minimalist syntactician, most of the theory will come from minimalist approaches.

Also, please tell me what you would be interested in hearing about.

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Re: Potential Syntax Introductory/QA thread?

Post by Ossicone » 19 Dec 2013 23:41

I think it would be great!

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Re: Potential Syntax Introductory/QA thread?

Post by Ceresz » 20 Dec 2013 00:18

Ossicone wrote:I think it would be great!
[+1]

This is much needed, and if you're up to it I'm sure you'll make a lot of people happy (myself included).

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Re: Potential Syntax Introductory/QA thread?

Post by roninbodhisattva » 20 Dec 2013 02:53

Great, I will start drawing up plans! I won't be able to start for a few days or so, as I'm finishing up final papers and whatnot, but there's a good chance I can try to start next week. I'll make the tread a sticky.

In the meantime, it would be helpful for me if people starting putting out ideas for what they're most interested in syntax. I'll try to start very big picture, but know what people want to know about would be good to.

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Khemehekis » 20 Dec 2013 05:46

Are there any correlations between a language having or lacking WH-fronting and other characteristics of said language?

Why do some Japanese compound words have rengaku and other Japanese compoind words don't?
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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by roninbodhisattva » 20 Dec 2013 06:01

The first question can definitely be discussed. The second though, I'm not sure about. It feels very Japanese specific, and when doing a search for "rengaku" on Google I didn't get anything related to Japanese compounding. What is it?

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Khemehekis » 20 Dec 2013 07:22

Wait, I looked it up, it's called rendaku, not rengaku.
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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Xing » 20 Dec 2013 10:26

Khemehekis wrote:Are there any correlations between a language having or lacking WH-fronting and other characteristics of said language?
IIRC, it's a little more probable for head-first languages to have WH-fronting, than for head-final ones. (Though counterexamples of both kinds exists).

I think I read in Baker's The Polysynthesis Parameter (or maybe it was somewhere else) that polysynthetic languages (at least as defined by Baker) have a tendency to have obligatory wh-fronting, despite their otherwise non-configurational character. I think he had some advanced explanation for why that must be, which I can look up when I have time.

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by gach » 20 Dec 2013 11:58

Speaking of wh-movement, what's its relation to moving topic and focus around into specific locations reserved for them?

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Serena » 20 Dec 2013 14:42

Khemehekis wrote:Why do some Japanese compound words have rengaku and other Japanese compoind words don't?
Well, I don't know Japanese but korean has a similar system to form compounds by addingㅅ. So:

(Loner) + 말 (Word) = 혼말 (Speech of the loner -> Soliloquy)
(Sea) + 가 (Way) = 바가 (Way of the sea -> Beach)

But

코 Nose + 피 Blood = 코피 (콧피) Nosebleed
목 Throat + 소리 Noise = 목소리 (몫소리) Voice

Because the second type of compounding expresses specification rather than possession:

The loner has a speech
The sea has a shore

The nose has blood
The throat has a noise


You can tell the difference.

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Plusquamperfekt » 20 Dec 2013 16:33

As a German native speaker love I it, about syntax to talk! [:)]

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Valosken » 21 Dec 2013 16:49

Honestly I'd like it if you went through the list you made on the first post. I know very few of those terms, and I'm relishing filling in my knowledge.
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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Ceresz » 26 Dec 2013 15:34

I too think the topics in your opening post look promising. I'm looking forward to applying your teachings to a recent project of mine which will be fairly analytic and syntax heavy. So far, though, I only really have the basic phrase structures sketched out. Will you be covering antipassive constructions when you talk about passives?

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by roninbodhisattva » 01 Feb 2014 03:26

So as most people have probably guessed, I've gotten pretty overwhelmed and probably won't be able to do this thread, at least as I planned it, for the time being.

However, I think it'd be cool to still have the thread around, so maybe we should turn it into a general question/answer or discussion thread for syntax related questions. Everything from "from, hey, I heard chomskyan linguistics thinks X, could you tell me more about that?" to actual empirical questions and stuff!

Any takers?

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Thrice Xandvii » 01 Feb 2014 06:27

I actually have a very minimal understanding about this stuff, and have sort of hit a wall in Sijaam Tû as a result (I've basically put the grammar on hold while I manufacture more words, and think more about the script... you know, things I am confident about). So in order to work on it really, I will need to do a lot of research and learning in this area and saw this thread's OP and got super-excited... only to see the most recent post above this. [:(]

So, with that being said, I would love this to still be a "thing." (Because I would hope to benefit from the discussions therein, not so much as a contributor.)
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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by roninbodhisattva » 01 Feb 2014 07:23

XXXVII wrote:I will need to do a lot of research and learning in this area and saw this thread's OP and got super-excited... only to see the most recent post above this.
Damn! Sorry. I feel bad about getting hopes up.

That being said, where are you finding the most trouble? Going beyond word order and the like, or something else? What are you trying to work on specifically, syntax wise?

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Thrice Xandvii » 01 Feb 2014 09:34

Well, I've been trying to string together longish sentences to see how all the disparate elements in my lang fit together and I just feel like I am making things up as I go along and pretending things translate the way I want without being sure. Also, I find myself struggling with consistency from one sentence to the next in making things flow in a logical way.

So far, Sijaam Tû is an isolating language, it only distinguishes aspect (mood and tense through context and in the case of a hortative via an intensifier particle), has a lot of particles, and an VSO word order that flips object for subject when the verb's action is not a volitional action.

Overall, word order should be pretty strict since there is no agreement marking whatsoever... But it just feels like no one could parse the sentences I am putting together. (I will have to post an example.)

(Also, don't feel bad, RL stuff should always come first! [:)])
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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Micamo » 01 Feb 2014 11:34

roninbodhisattva wrote:So as most people have probably guessed, I've gotten pretty overwhelmed and probably won't be able to do this thread, at least as I planned it, for the time being.

However, I think it'd be cool to still have the thread around, so maybe we should turn it into a general question/answer or discussion thread for syntax related questions. Everything from "from, hey, I heard chomskyan linguistics thinks X, could you tell me more about that?" to actual empirical questions and stuff!

Any takers?
Alright, I has a question: When, exactly, is agreement applied in a syntactic derivation? Far as I can tell from what I've read about how agreement works in generative syntax, the answer to that question is "Whenever the author needs it to happen in order for their hypothesis to work out." Is it actually so flexible (which greatly reduces its predictive strength) or is there some principle they're all following that I'm just not seeing?
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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by Xing » 01 Feb 2014 13:24

roninbodhisattva wrote:So as most people have probably guessed, I've gotten pretty overwhelmed and probably won't be able to do this thread, at least as I planned it, for the time being.
I'm kinda familiar with that situation...
However, I think it'd be cool to still have the thread around, so maybe we should turn it into a general question/answer or discussion thread for syntax related questions. Everything from "from, hey, I heard chomskyan linguistics thinks X, could you tell me more about that?" to actual empirical questions and stuff!

Any takers?
It's a good idea. We could turn it into a general thread for questions, discussion and links/resources on syntax.

I noticed that the conlang book on Wikibooks has a section on Government and Binding theory. I'm about to read it now. We'll see how far I'll get.

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Re: Let's Talk about Syntax (NP: Topic Ideas etc)

Post by roninbodhisattva » 02 Feb 2014 02:05

Xing wrote:It's a good idea. We could turn it into a general thread for questions, discussion and links/resources on syntax.
I think this is the best course of action, yes.
Xing wrote:
roninbodhisattva wrote:So as most people have probably guessed, I've gotten pretty overwhelmed and probably won't be able to do this thread, at least as I planned it, for the time being.
I'm kinda familiar with that situation...
I noticed that the conlang book on Wikibooks has a section on Government and Binding theory. I'm about to read it now. We'll see how far I'll get.
Interesting, I'll give it a look eventually. GB is the mainline predecessor to Minimalism, and Minimalism basically grew out of a kind of... reconstruction of GB from the ground up. A lot of the baroqueness of GB is gone in Minimalism and the core is still thee. Because I've been working in Minimalism from the beginning,t hough, my GB knowledge isn't what it should be. I'll try to answer anything I can!

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